Dear Auntie, My family are descendants of indigenous people of Oaxaca Mexico. My teacher said I am considered Native American? Is this true? I am very curious!?
Hey there! Thanks for the question.
Well, you’re teacher is in part correct. It sounds like your descendants are indeed indigenous to the America’s. However, by US government standards they are not considered one of the 562 federally recognized tribes.
I can guess that what your teacher was getting at, is that the indigenous people of the America’s (North, Central, and South) had no boarders until relatively recent in history. There was a lot of movement by tribes, especially tribes that moved seasonally for hunting and crop growing. This means tribes moved across the Canadian and Mexican boarders pretty fluidly. There are even tales that part of my tribe located in New Mexico (Zuni Pueblo) ended up in Chile.
So, yes, the indigenous people of Oaxaca are native to the America’s. They are recognized by the Mexican government as the second largest group of indigenous people, after the Yucatan people. There are 16 formally registered indigenous communities. However, they are not technically considered Native American or American Indian by US government standards and do not receive tribal or US citizenry recognition.
Hope this clears it up.
Thanks for writing in!